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Russian court sentences Ukrainian pilot Savchenko in murder case

Vasily Maximov, AFP | Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko sits inside a defendant's cage during her sentencing hearing at a court in the southern Russian town of Donetsk, on March 22, 2016.

A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko to 22 years in jail after finding her guilty of complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists during the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

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Savchenko, a 34-year-old who has become a national hero at home in Ukraine, was defiant as the verdict was read out, shouting out a Ukrainian song and forcing the judge Leonid Stepanenko to call a brief adjournment.

Savchenko was captured by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 during the separatist conflict there and handed over to Russia where she was charged with directing mortar fire which killed the two Russian journalists.

She has denied wrongdoing, and, from the glass and metal cage where she has been held in the courtroom, has often shouted her view that she is the victim of a show trial aimed at humiliating Ukraine.

Russian officials have signalled that, once the trial is over, they may be open to negotiations about handing Savchenko over to Ukraine, possibly as part of a prisoner exchange.

(REUTERS)

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